What A Difference A Year Makes; Efforts To Craft
New 2007 Farm Bill Entering Final Stage

Friday, January 25, 2008                          By Shawn Wade

      Nowthat Congress has returned to Washington, the next stage of the farm billdevelopment process is also on the verge of getting started as the House andSenate Agriculture Committees begin the process of "conferencing" the twodifferent versions of the 2007 farm bill passed by those bodies.

      Lookingback at how we arrived at the last leg of the 2007 Farm Bill's marathondevelopment process shows that at this time last year the Bush Administrationwas just about to unveil its' vision of future farm policy.

      Ayear later the finish line is finally in sight as House and Senate AgricultureCommittee leaders press forward to complete the legislation and send it toPresident Bush's desk before a current funding extension expires in mid-March.

      Despitenot having many of their specific ideas incorporated into the bills that werepassed in House of Representatives and United States Senate, the Administrationhas continued to voice its concern and work to make changes in certain areas ofthe developing legislation.

      AsCongress moves forward with the process of working out differences between theHouse and Senate bills, the Bush Administration is still pushing forsignificantly stricter program payment eligibility provisions.

      Alsohigh on the Administration's list of things it wants to see changed are the "pay-for"provisions that will provide additional money to fund important new programsbenefiting specialty crops, conservation and nutrition programs.

      TheAdministration's position on these issues has been voiced repeatedly sinceCongress adjourned just before Christmas and includes an ongoing threat of aPresidential veto if these items are not fully addressed in the conferencereport.

      Outsideof Washington the message emanating from agriculture organizations is that theAdministration needs to think carefully before vetoing the reconciled versionof the 2007 Farm Bill. When complete, the final bill will have passed bothHouses of Congress and include many significant reforms in program eligibilityand payment limitations as well as making historic new investments in otherareas.

      Onthe Senate side of the equation Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman TomHarkin (D-IA), and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) have both notedthe importance of continuing to have a dialogue with the Administration onthese issues in hopes of developing a bill that everyone can support.

      Conrad,who was in Lubbock, Texas, January 25 participating in the 1stAnnual Meeting of the Southwest Council of Agribusiness, said earlier this weekthat Administration officials are "very inflexible" in their demandswhen compromise is needed. He added that the Senate Finance Committee waslooking at alternative revenue proposals that he hoped would ultimately proveacceptable to the Administration.

      Thefarm Bill was an obvious source of discussion during the January 24confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Edward Schafer of NorthDakota as well.

      Schaferis a former two-term governor of North Dakota and could be confirmed assecretary as early as next week.

      Ifconfirmed, Schafer will become head of the Agriculture Department in the midstof contentious negotiations on the $286 billion bill passed by both the Houseand Senate last year. Schafer also said that he hoped he could help"narrow the differences" on the Farm Bill.

      "Iknow the President wants to sign a new farm bill this year," said Schafer,who offered to work with Congress to resolve the impasse over tax increases andtighter subsidy rules for the farm bill.

      HouseAgriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN), who has met on severaloccasions with Administration representatives to discuss their concerns, saysthat an Administration veto would do nothing but set the stage for U.S. farmpolicy to revert back to the underlying permanent law embodied in the AgricultureAct of 1949.

      Duringa January 22 conference call with reporters, Peterson said, "If theHouse-Senate conference committee reconciles the House and Senate bills byMarch 15, we would send the farm bill to the White House and the presidentwould sign it or we would go to permanent law. It would be as simple as that."

     Petersonalso noted that, "All three of us — the House, the Senate and theAdministration want to get this done." He summed up the situation by saying, "TheWhite House says it wants a bill 'sooner rather than later. But it has not beenwilling to move on these key issues."

      Atthe end of the day, the final product of the conference committee will in largepart determine whether or not the Administration will soften its position andsign this very important legislation.





Week Ending January 24, 2008:


































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Source: USDA AMS Cotton Division

Wantthe facts about the U.S. farm policy. Get what you need at:


SW Farm & Ranch Classic: Jan.31-Feb. 2

      Thisyear's Southwest Farm & Ranch Classic is set for January 31 throughFebruary 2 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis Lane (6thStreet) in Lubbock.

      Attendeeswill be able to view both indoor and outdoor exhibits each day featuring thelatest in agricultural equipment and service providers. Admission and parkingfor those attending the three-day show is free.

      Onceagain part of this year's show will be the Community Quilters Guild, who willprovide on-site quilting demonstrations and tips; the South Plains AntiqueTractor Association, providing a look back at the equipment used by farmers andranchers through the years; and demonstrations from renowned horse trainer VannHargis each day.

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce PowerBreakfast

      TheLubbock Chamber of Commerce will kick off the fourth annual Southwest Farm andRanch Classic with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, January 31, in theBanquet Hall of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Serving line will open at7:15 a.m.

      Keynotespeaker Tom Sell with Combest, Sell & Associates will discuss the Farm Billand its importance to the local economy, particularly how Lubbock benefits fromsound farm policy and the potential effects to Lubbock if that policy were notin place.

      Ticketsfor the breakfast are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Tablesponsorships are available for $300 and include a listing on the program,banner placement at the breakfast, and prime reserved seating for eight people.

      Registration/cancellationdeadline is 5 p.m. Monday, January 28. For more information or to reserve yourseat, click on the "Register Now" button above. You may also call(806) 761-7000 or e-mail info@lubbockbiz.org.


2008 Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Production Conference Dates

      Helping farmers stay up onthe latest trends in crop production, marketing, and management is the numberone goal of High Plains crop production conferences. Sponsored by Texas AgriLifeExtension Service, the Conferences will once again offer a bounty of usefulproduction information for producers entering the 2008 growing season.

      For those that haven't heard,Texas AgriLife Extension Service is the new name of Texas Cooperative Extension,which provides Texans in all 254 counties with non-biased, research-basededucation programs and services in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H andyouth development, family and consumer sciences, and community economicdevelopment.

      Also getting a new moniker isTexas AgriLife Research, formerly identified as the Texas AgriculturalExperiment Station, which annually conducts more than $150 million inagriculture and life-sciences research.

      This year's Extensionconferences are scheduled at multiple locations throughout the area during themonths of January and February to provide growers multiple opportunities toparticipate without having to travel too far from home.

      By attending the conferencesproducers can also earn continuing education units (CEUs) necessary to maintainprivate and commercial applicator licenses.


2008 South Plains AgricultureConferences




Jan. 21

West Plains Cotton Conference

Location: South Plains College (Sundown Room), Levelland.

Information: Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and conference will continue until 3:00 p.m. There is not a registration fee and 5 CEU's will be given. Call the Extension office in Hockley County at 806-894-3159 for more details.

Jan. 22

Caprock Crop Production Conference

Location: Pioneer Memorial Building, 101 West Main, Crosbyton.

Information: Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. and conference will continue until 4:10 p.m. Registration fee is $25.00 if received before January 16 and add $10.00 if received after January 16 and 7.5 CEU's will be given. Call the Extension office in Floyd County at 806-983-4912 or Crosby County at 806-675-2347 for more details.

Jan. 23

Southern Mesa Agriculture Conference

Location: Movieland Theatre, 604 N. Austin Ave., Lamesa.

Information: Registration begins at 7:15 a.m. and conference will continue until 4:30 p.m. Registration fee is $20.00 and 5 CEU's will be given. Call the Extension office in Dawson County at 806-872-3444 for more details.

Jan. 24

Llano Estacado Cotton Conference

Location: Bailey County Coliseum, 2206 West American Blvd., Muleshoe.

Information: Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. An agenda will be forthcoming after the first of the year. Call the Extension office in Bailey County at 806-272-4584 for more details.

Jan. 24

High Plains Vegetable Conference

Location: West Texas A&M University (Alumni Banquet Facility), Canyon.

Information: Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. and conference will continue until 4:00 p.m. Registration fee is $25.00 if received by January 15 or $30.00 at the door and 6.5 CEU's are pending approval. Call Dr. Russ Wallace at 806-746-6101 for details.

Jan. 31 - Feb. 2

Extension agriculture seminars @ Southwest Farm & Ranch Show

Location: Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis (6th Street), Lubbock.

Information: Show hours are from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Thursday – Saturday. Free admission and free parking. Call the Extension office in Lubbock County at 806-775-1680.

Feb. 1

Regional Irrigation Conference

Information: Call the Extension office in Lubbock County at 806-775-1680.

Feb. 5

Sandyland Agriculture Conference

Location: Gaines County Civic Building, 402 N.W. 5th, Seminole.

Information: Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and conference will continue until 4:00 p.m. There is not a registration fee and a meal will be provided. Five CEU's are pending approval. Call the Extension office in Gaines County at 432-758-4006 for more details.

Feb. 6

South Plains Agriculture Conference

Location: American Legion Hall, 800 Seagraves Rd., Brownfield.

Information: Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and conference will continue until 3:45 p.m. There is not a registration fee and a meal will be provided. Five CEU's are pending approval. Call the Extension office in Terry County at 806-637-4060 for more details.

Feb. 6

Hale and Swisher County Crops Conference

Information: Call the Extension office in Hale County at 806-291-5267 or Swisher County at 806-995-3726.

Feb. 20

Cotton Production Workshop

Information: Call the Extension office in Lubbock County at 806-775-1680.

Source: Texas AgriLife ExtensionService